The High Cost of Fast Fashion

Did you know fast fashion is the fastest growing global category of waste and pollution?

What’s even worse is the majority of clothing is made from synthetic fibres such as polyester. These fibres are a type of plastic.

As well as the danger of micro-plastics on our health, clothing made from polyester can take 200 years to break down.

We live in such a throw away society that we don’t realise what we are doing to the planet just for sake of a new fashionable item of clothing. It also has a direct affect on our finances, keeping people broke for the sake of being like the Joneses.

Fast Fashion

Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.

Oxford Dictionary

The (shocking) Australian statistics:

  • 3 in 10 people discard an item of clothing after wearing it just once
  • 4 in 10 people throw unwanted clothes in the rubbish bin
  • 1 in 5 people own over 100 items of clothing, not including underwear or socks
  • The average person buys 27 kilos of new clothes and textiles per year
  • Australia is the 2nd biggest consumer of fabric in the world

Globally, 83,782,000,000 kilograms of clothing are thrown away every year.

A visual explanation from the World Resources Institute showing how much clothing is wasted each year.
The global problem of fashion

The environment needs people to buy fewer clothes. Society needs fashion to be unfashionable.

Manufacturers and retailers won’t stop producing fast fashion unless we stop buying it.

We have control over our future if we are intentional with our spending by not being mindless consumers.

Below are six clothing challenges to help change consumer habits.

Project 333: Be More With Less

This is a minimalist clothing challenge which requires you to wear only 33 items or less for 3 months.

These 33 items includes shoes and accessories such as hats and jewellery.

For the challenge, you choose your 33 items and box up the rest of the wardrobe for 3 months.

The 33 items do NOT include underwear, socks, PJs, in-home lounge wear or workout clothes/active wear (if you actually exercise in them). Phew.

Just because it made me laugh!

30 Day Challenge

This challenge seems simple: only wear what you already own for the next 30 days.

No clothes shopping at all.

The idea is to fall in love with what you already own by mixing and matching your clothes.

Personally, I don’t think this seems like much of a challenge, probably because I’m one of those weird people who dislikes shopping.

However, if you love shopping then it’s likely going to be difficult.

10 X 10 Closet Challenge

The ultimate in the micro-capsule wardrobe.

Wardrobe is an interesting word as ward = keep guard, and robe = garments. So, a wardrobe is a room where clothes are kept safe. Not that you’ll need a room full of garments for this challenge.

Choose just 10 items from your wardrobe. Now for the next 10 days you can only choose clothing to wear from those 10 items.

As with Project 333, underwear, socks, PJs and active wear are not included.

A photo of clothing worn in the 10 x 10 closet challenge. A method of rejecting fast fashion.
A variety of outfits from just 10 items

30 X 30 Closet Challenge

Similar to the 10 X 10 challenge, except you choose 30 items of clothing to create 30 different outfits over 30 days.

This challenge includes shoes.

Seem too easy? Try the next challenge.

No New Clothes For 1 Year Challenge

Simple, don’t buy any clothes for an entire year.

Instead of not buying clothes for 10 days, or for 30 days, or for three months – try 365 days.

You could save an enormous amount of money doing this challenge. Check out the 752 Rule about the true cost of your wants. It just might help keep you focussed.

My own problem with this challenge is when you need new clothing for a specific purpose. For example, last year I started a new job and needed sun smart occupation specific clothing.

Apart from those purchases (and undies), any other clothing I’ve purchased has been from the opportunity/thrift shop. Which leads us to the next challenge: anti-consumerism.

Anti-Consumerism Challenge

We all need to consume to survive. We need food, water, clothing and shelter.

The problem we face in modern times is excessive consumerism causing enormous problems with environmental pollution.

Each and every one of us can make a difference by what we spend our money on.

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

Anna Lappe

Want to be broke and surrounded by pollution? Me either.

Try the anti-consumerist challenge, for the rest of your life (yes, I made this challenge up).

Here’s some anti-consumerist suggestions to help you co-create a better world:

  • Repair your clothing. You could also have fun creating original patches.
  • Buy second hand clothing, including school uniforms
  • Rent clothing for special occasions
  • Tailor clothing to revamp into a newer style
  • Embrace giving and receiving hand-me-downs
  • Donate unwanted clothing to opportunity/thrift shops
  • Swap clothing with family or friends, or at a pre-organised clothes swap
  • Have a unique style – don’t get sucked into following the latest fashion and trends
  • Wear a capsule wardrobe such as the 10 x 10 challenge or Project 333
  • Buy fewer new items, ensuring they are good quality and will last a long time
  • Avoid buying new clothing made from synthetic fibres such as polyester (plastics). Instead, look for linen, hemp, cotton or wool.
  • Wash your clothes less often to reduce the impact of damage to the fibres – only wash if dirty or smelly.
  • Cold wash your clothing and air dry them

Now You’ve Saved All That Money

You may be wondering what to do with all your newfound savings.

Rather than spending any savings on the next consumerist fad, consider investing your money to give you and your family financial security, or better still financial independence.

The beauty of being less of a consumer is less environmental pollution, and having more money for what’s truly important in your life.

Are you ready for a clothing challenge?

Please comment below with your thoughts about fast fashion.

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